Monday, August 31, 2020

If this is how it's gonna to play out Biden will win.
Jilani went all in: "Biden or we burn the country." I grabbed a pic. It's not worth it here.
From 2008 and still good.  I'd written that change is too slow. But it won't change.
There are no adults. I'm tired.
---

Rule#1. Make it idiot-proof.
I hate explaining this shit, but it's all I do.

geek |gēk|
noun informal
1 an unfashionable or socially inept person.
• [with adj. ] a person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest : a computer geek.
2 a carnival performer who does wild or disgusting acts.
DERIVATIVES
geeky adjective
ORIGIN late 19th cent.: from the related English dialect geck ‘fool,’ of Germanic origin; related to Dutch gek ‘mad, silly.’
---
The bottom two drawings are obviously models of human interaction: either in the present (mediated by language) or in the study of the past (mediated by language and time). The top two are diagrams of common utopian/dystopian fantasies [hopes] of far too many people.
I should have made this clear long ago, but I take people too much for granted.

We study the past not by studying the preoccupations of those who were there but by studying the record of those preoccupations. We live alongside one another through another version of the same process. We cannot claim to share their interests -in terms of the present we can't claim identity- though in some cases we can claim an affinity with them, but there remains a gulf between us and our subjects and each other. This gulf can be wider or narrower depending on their interests and ours. The  applications of Mathematics can appear to collapse historical time and the distance between individuals, numbers live in an eternal present and in unity with one another, but we don't.
Our society is a society built upon isolation and simultaneously upon a fixation on a desire/fear of simple absolute unity. Raves and The Borg are products of the same fear, desire, sadness.
A geek is someone who is so wed to his own fixations that he is unable to imagine the world through the mind of another. Americans are the prototypical geeks, unable to imagine non-Americans. But geeks now rule academia, even the humanities. Literature is now studied in academia by literature geeks. Our soldiers are military geeks. That specifically is dangerous, but so is the rest.
The above is, objectively, how the world works. It's the diagram for water-cooler chitchat, presidential elections, academic advancement, and how to pick up girls. It's the model of life as theater, assuming of course that actors know they're being observed. It's the model for intellectual "progress" in that progress is only possible if the model is seen to apply to human behavior. It is also therefore a defense of the arts, of craft, as a mode of reflexive activity and social engagement. [lawyers are craftsmen]. It's the model of artists' relation to one another and of artist to critic, if the critic sees himself in a reciprocal relation rather than as voyeur vampire, what academics become when they imagine themselves as observers and others as animate objects. The sciences and the pseudo-sciences have become not only asocial but anti-social. I've linked to Colin McGinn enough, but I've been pointing out examples of this for years. "Truth" is the metaphysical glow that attaches itself to unknown facts. It fades with familiarity and those facts return to their previous status as mundane.

If you don't understand that what you are and represent is being recontextualized constantly, and if you're remembered at all it will be as others see you, then you have no right to call yourself an "intellectual." Even then it's a term best left for others to use to describe you, if they choose.

Reading any text, examining any man-made thing, you ask yourself what to respond to: text or subtext, the intention of the maker or what the thing seems now to represent. Ideally you learn from both, but perhaps you have no way of knowing the maker's intent. Either way you may learn to respect the maker of a resilient, dynamic, order -a structure- and begin to reconstruct the categories they worked with, that were their preoccupation. You ask: “Is there more to learn from this person as thinker or as symptom?" Just as meeting someone on the street you ask: "Is this someone to laugh at, or with?" The stuff that lasts never becomes dated; the memorable minds are never merely symptomatic. Philip Roth is a practitioner of philosophical naturalism. Brian Leiter is a professor of a branch of a school of late scholastic philosophy. Post-war rationalism, late modernism, baroque idealism: these are the categories that will be used to describe it. They're categories of history, not reason.
At some point this will become so obvious that even PhD's will understand it.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Osterweil is on NPR. The best thing Trumpers could do it put her on Fox.
Vicky Osterweil's new book, In Defense of Looting: A Riotous History of Uncivil Action, is a social justice justification for property damage and theft. This book promoting riots is a number one new release on Amazon, a mega-corporation that benefits every time a local shop gets torched.
Calling Andrew Sullivan a fascist means nothing when he quotes this and you refuse to respond.
Watching looters bust down our family restaurant is so heartbreaking. Senseless, they’re doing it while laughing and smirking. Not gonna lie, I damn near shot a man tonight. He threw that fucking rock at my family photo and looked right at me. I said “ you motherfucker....” tears immediately rolled down my face. I just can’t no more. I’m thankful I walked away but Fuck y’all.
CBS
“To be honest this hurts a lot,” Toom Nguyen said. “Just to see this happening to us here.”
Toom, one of the restaurant’s owners, said the employees closed down the restaurant before the violence made its way from Nicollet Mall toward Loring Park.
“They just broke stuff for no reason,” Yoom Nguyen said.
His brother Yoom came to check on the restaurant around 9 ‘o’clock Wednesday night. He told the growing crowd they were a family-owned restaurant and didn’t have anything inside of value.
Still, the storefront windows were smashed.
“You know we work hard, we’re all minorities, just don’t do that stuff and the thought he could have lost his life or someone could have gotten really hurt — it made me question a lot of things,” co-owner Yoom Nguyen said.
The owners said the civil unrest after George Floyd’s death caused around 30 thousand dollars worth of damage to the restaurant. They are unsure how much longer Lotus will be able to stay downtown.
“Our staff is scared,” Yoom said. “We don’t have any leadership or protection, we don’t know what to do here.”
The brothers did say they were grateful police responded quickly and blocked off the businesses from more damage.
Cooper is confused
"I shouldn't have to follow reactionaries, contrarians and pedants to find people who understand what anti-political idealism looks like. I shouldn't have to read cynics to find anti-utopians."

Recently Jilani equated the founding of Israel to the partition of India. Imagine Ali Jinnah as an immigrant from Poland, arriving in Bombay in 1906.
He deletes his tweets but the text will stay.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Quoting Renan. Godard was always a conservative.

The younger man in the back is Louis-Do de Lencquesaing. Caroline Champetier, photographing the father of her child. I could go on with this, but it would get too cute.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

He retweeted it today.
Politics is the lifeblood of democracy. Nwanevu prefers Truth.

repeats. no links this time
John Mortimer:
Joe Jamail: "Lawyers are the rule of law."

The west has never recovered from the fall of the Roman Republic.
The "Enlightenment" was a fucking disaster.
Arendt's problem wasn't that she could never leave Heidegger behind but that she couldn't leave philosophy behind.

Keeping up appearances

Conversation with my British niece a few years ago. I defended the monarchy as an institution but suggested the royals should be replaced by actors, and the queen when she’s needed played by the greatest British actress of the day.

H: What, Helen Mirren?
S: She’s a slut! You don’t want to fuck the queen! The other one.
H: Oh. Judi Dench.
S: Yeh.

I didn't think fast enough to suggest Ian McKellen.
Frears' movie had been out for years but I hadn't seen it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Hansen-Løve,  Father of My Children. A film about the suicide of a film producer, based on the last days of the man who'd agreed to produce Hansen-Løve's first film.

Louis-Do de Lencquesaing and Alice de Lencquesaing (above). Father and daughter, playing father and daughter. Her mother is Caroline Champetier.

When philosophical language appears in American films, it's either fakery for a mass audience or armored pretense. In most other countries it's just the language of the educated bourgeoisie talking to itself. Her parents are philosophy teachers but Hansen-Løve has a very light touch. Rohmer is one of her favorites and she's a natural heir, with none of the his sense of superiority that makes him so attractive to Neil LaBute. Her characters sit or stand across from her. They may be her creations but they're also an aspect of her.  Her films are about people and the ideas they have, not about ideas and the people who exhibit them.

Alice de Lencquesaing's performance was so fragile it made me nervous.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Kimberly Guilfoyle doesn't believe a word she's saying, but her critics will respond as if she does.
Her fans don't care. American fascist oratory isn't even oratory. There's no skill; it's pure kitsch.

Things to Come (L'Avenir), Mia Hansen-Løve on the right, Kiarostami on the left.  Isabelle Huppert watching Juliette Binoche. I guessed at the reference because I haven't seen Certified Copy.
Americans would have a hard time with the scene but it's played as minor.

At 16 Hansen-Løve played a girl having an affair with a middle aged man.  If you believe them, and I don't, her affair with Assayas began when she was 20. They broke up in 2017. They're both very good filmmakers, but she'll end up better than he is.

10 years ago I spent a long evening with a 24 year old who'd left home at 16 to move in with a 40 year old, breaking up a marriage. 8 years later he cheated on her and she left him. The ex-wife told her: "I knew he'd blow it." The girlfriend had become close to the daughter, and now the three of them had contempt for the man, the son of a famous feminist.

No one above, other than me, is American.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Hélas pour moi


Cinematographer: Caroline Champetier.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

sympathy for the devil II

Frears: I don’t think the film has anything to do with conventional questions about monarchy.
Slate: You don’t think The Queen has anything to do with monarchy?
Frears: No.
Slate: OK. Let’s say this then—much of the film explores the contrasts between old styles of reticence and the new emotionalism of therapeutic cultures—
Frears: Yes. It’s about tradition and change.
Charlie Rose: Are you a monarchist?
Frears: I'm a Queenist.
Graham Fuller
When Elizabeth last appears, she’s strolling in the gardens at the palace alongside the Labour Prime Minister (who has sardonically been dubbed “Mr. Savior of the Monarchy” by Cherie). That their values have meshed feels like a betrayal.
Manohla Dargis
Those who think more crowned heads should have rolled in the 18th century, in the meantime, can cozy up to “The Queen,” a sublimely nimble evisceration of that cult of celebrity known as the British royal family.
Fuller and Dargis are describing what they wanted to see. So is Frears. He's hedging. But he made the thing, and that's what counts.  Practice precedes theory. Sensibility and opinion are both forms of intention and in art, sensibility wins.

repeats. Murray Kempton on Spike Lee.
Do the Right Thing is the newest entry in the expanding catalog of films inspired by Italian-American family virtues. If it is less engaging than Moonstruck, it can be commended for the earnestness of its effort to convey the suffering and final defeat of a rational man by an irrational world.
One of the most important scenes in the film. [The title is wrong]


Martha Bayles in the Claremont Review of Books describing the scene above. Some errors are easy to spot, others less so.
Wisely, Frears films the weeping queen from the back, so that rather than gape at her red face and runny nose (a movie staple these days), we see only the back of her head and heaving shoulders. Then enters the stag, picking his way across the hillside until the queen sees him and exclaims, "O Beauty!" (You'd better believe there's no "h" after that "O.") A moment later, hearing gunfire and voices, she tells the animal "Shoo!" And watching him retreat without yielding one jot of his dignity, she breaks into a smile. The queen is resolved. Assuming her customary expression of stern benevolence, she proceeds to comply with the prime minister's suggestions. But clearly she has been moved less by the talkative pol than by the noble beast.

The word noble is crucial. While preparing to leave for London, the queen learns that the stag has been shot, not by the royal hunting party but by a guest at "one of the commercial estates." Upon her departure she stops at the estate in question and asks to see the "imperial 14-pointer," which is hanging beheaded in a game shed. From the gamekeeper she learns that the stag was wounded "by an investment banker" and had run 14 miles before the gamekeeper could "finish him off." "Let's hope he didn't suffer too much," remarks the queen. Then with her characteristic dry irony, she adds, "Please pass my congratulations to your guest."

None of this makes any sense if the stag is interpreted as "a mawkish stand-in for the doomed Diana" or "the movie's simplistic reminder to Elizabeth that Diana, too, is dead and deserving of some compassion" (to quote two metaphorically challenged reviewers). Just as roses symbolize love, stags symbolize nobility. If you want to get mythological about it, Diana is the name of the Roman goddess of the hunt, the one who slays the stag. The queen's epiphany is not about her pathetic former daughter-in-law, it's about herself. And not the private self who wants to hide under the covers whenever Tony Blair rings, but the public self who has been raised from birth to be the living residue of an ancient ideal: rule by a person or persons superior in virtue. Watching the stag beat his dignified retreat, the queen realizes she can do the same. And shortly thereafter, we see Blair lose his temper with his wife Cherie and his press secretary, Alastair Campbell, who have been dissing the queen. Whether or not the real Blair is given to eloquent outbursts defending the importance of the Crown to the British system of government, this one certainly comes at the right dramatic moment.
The Queen doesn't watch the stag retreat, she turns away and turns back to realize he's gone. The simplicity avoids the mawkishness that Bayles wants, but also adds a note of ambiguity, as if maybe the stag was only a waking dream, something that the Queen wanted to see. The next scene as key and I wish it were on the web, but Bayles' description will do. And she recognizes things that everyone involved in the film understood, but many Americans missed. But she simplifies it.  The Queen would never be so vulgar as to associate the stag with herself. The stag's nobility is the nobility of the old order in which the Queen, the huntsman and the stag together serve their roles. Diana was both the hunter and the hunted. The investment banker, the culture of money and celebrity, killed her. This is the weakest point of a good film. Diana was killed by the same people who worshipped her, who read the tabloids that hired the paparazzi to feed their need for pictures.  If the film treated the monarchy and new money with a mix of irony and deference, the people themselves are untouchable.

The Queen was the Queen's favorite film of 2006
Brian Blessed says her favorite film of all time is Flash Gordon.  I'm sure Martha Bayles is depressed about that one.

repeats: sympathy part I

A section from Captives. On it's own it's too much. I keep thinking it's obvious but I can't tell anymore. No one gets my sense of humor.

Friday, August 21, 2020

"History is like foreign travel. It broadens the mind, but it does not deepen it."
Descartes.

2011
Israeli officials want a public commitment from Washington to protect the Saudi regime should it come under threat.


2015

2019

2020
Göran Therborn,  Dreams and Nightmares of the World’s Middle Classes, NLR,
first, and last two paragraphs.

I could quibble and say that Asia's not the South, and that the rest is fucking obvious, but the fucking obvious is hard to come by these days. Like Streeck and Blyth.

The middle class is exploding, capitalism is expanding; the question is the model.

I've inserted a pic that encapsulates one sort of American technocrat/reactionary/libertarian confusion. Immigrants are complex, self-interested and loyal, closed and open, cosmopolitan in a ways Americans will never understand. I've said it dozens of times: when I tell immigrants their children will become American idiots, they laugh. And they agree. Khachiyan is a reactionary decadent, but as an American she doesn't even know it, at least not consciously. She's a moralist, like Bannon, and she was stupid enough to take him seriously as an intellectual.
The world has been getting contradictory messages about its class structure. According to one authoritative account, it has reached a ‘global tipping point’—‘half the world is now middle class or wealthier’. This was based on figures marshalled by Homi Kharas, a former World Bank chief economist now at Brookings. More excitably, the Economist has hailed the ‘relentless rise’ of a ‘burgeoning bourgeoisie’ and trumpeted the arrival of a middle-class world. Yet serious scholarship also assures us of the opposite: according to Peter Temin, emeritus professor of economics at MIT, we should be concerned about ‘the vanishing middle class’. Readers could be forgiven for feeling bewildered. What is going on in economics—and in the economic sociology of the real world? This contribution will examine the varying definitions of ‘middle class’ in play and the contrasting trajectories analysed by development economists, sociologists and financial journalists across the different sectors of the world economy. It will go on to outline a rather different future for the world’s middle classes than either of the extremes suggested here. But first, a few historical and conceptual considerations may be in order, for the concept of the ‘middle class’ has long given rise to debate.

...The 2020 pandemic has therefore divided the middle class, while the gap between its upper ranks and the real bourgeoisie is widening further, due to the billions of dollars of pandemic ‘stimulus’ snaffled by the latter. Middle-class aspirations are being thwarted by a surge in youth unemployment, in both North and South. The ‘forward march’ of the Southern middle class, by whatever definition, has halted. Northern nightmares, on the other hand, are likely to continue. The frenetic preoccupation with consumption in mainstream middle-class discourse might appear frivolous in the shadow of the Coronavirus, and under the darkening clouds of climate change.

Further important questions—the processes of contemporary middle-class formation, social development and political potential—lie beyond the scope of this paper. For now, what conclusions may be drawn? First, the world can only be understood through its differences and inequalities, taking a 360-degree perspective. Failing that, the world looks very different depending on one’s vantage point; a vista from the North may look upside down from the South, and vice versa. Second, the middle class has a discursive centrality in the early twenty-first century, corresponding to that of the working class a century before. It should be read symptomatically, as an indicator of profound social change, as well as critically, as an ideology of consumer capitalism. Third, prevailing middle-class discourse is deeply—if not always deliberately—ideological, inflating out of all proportion a nebulous entity with strong political connotations—the middle class—and portraying a world of consumers without producers. Fourth, this discourse is also deceptive in absolutizing both the middle class and poverty. Poverty is always relative, the losing end of the prevailing level of unequal resource distribution; and the middle has to be in the middle of something. Finally, the emergent middle classes of the South are heading into the maelstrom of capitalist inequality, where they look set to converge with the hard-hit middle classes of the North. The covid-19 pandemic is currently shattering the middle-class dream in the South and accelerating the inegalitarian tendencies analysed above. Where this will lead is still an open question.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Mainstream American journalism is changing, and not because the man is black and he works for the NYT,  but because the perceptions are out front. This is not passive observation, in imitation of academia.
"Stephen Miller says Democrats want 'two-tiered system of free speech'"
True enough.
Goodyear is committed to fostering an inclusive and respectful workplace where all of our associates can do their best in a spirit of teamwork. As part of this commitment, we do allow our associates to express their support on racial injustice and other equity issues but ask that they refrain from workplace expressions, verbal or otherwise, in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party as well as other similar forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of equity issues.”
Melissa Monaco, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
Liberals aren't interested in freedom of speech. That includes most of the signers of the Harper's letter. There was some discussion recently of arguments for ending at-will employment, but that didn't last. You can't be fired for being black or gay anymore, but you can still be fired for being a communist, a Democrat, or a Republican.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

See how long it lasts.


"Update: actually, nobody at the FBI decided this. They just decided to have a twitter bot that tweets, without any context, what people request via FOIA. So today it tweeted, without any context, the Protocols."
FBI apologizes

"For more than a century, the fabricated text “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” has advanced a persistent anti-Semitic trope: that Jews are plotting to take over the world. From Hitler to Henry Ford, rabid anti-Semites have long shared the notorious text.

On Wednesday, an FBI Twitter account did the same. An account called FBI Records Vault tweeted out a link to a PDF containing the anti-Semitic tome as well as FBI documents related to it, with no other context, leaving critics baffled and outraged.

The FBI later apologized and clarified the account is automated and sends links to records that have been made public via Freedom of Information Act requests."
The replies were what you'd expect.



Monday, August 17, 2020

Three in a row. A mix of the perfect and the absurd. Everything that's wrong about Jilani, libertarianism, aging libertines and political "science".

The false equivalence of oppositions, ignoring structural distinctions, distinctions between representatives of political parties and the populace, and time.

repeat. Rick Perlstein: "I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong."

It's easier this way:


repeats ad infinitum:

repeats. The distinction between collaborative reason in the academy, and adversarial reason in the world at large.

Politics is more than politicians negotiating with their peers; it's politicians undermining their peers' support. That's why it's called "politics".

"Harris", above, is Ben Harris, Biden economic advisor. The link to Vox: "This is the future Joe Biden wants"
---

I can't remember the first time I said that partisan politics as party over policy meant that the rightward drift of the Democrats pushed the Republicans further to the right.

via Osita Nwanevu who adds: "The nominee for Commerce Secretary Judd Gregg - who'd been criticized in part because he'd once voted to abolish the Department of Commerce - ended up withdrawing."

Attacks this week on Sanders, who blocked Obama appointments to the PO Board of Governors. Others point out that Obama's choices were in favor of privatization.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Intentional low-information rationality

Leiter posts a memorial by Alon Harel. my emphasis.
Ruth Gavison was my teacher and I owe my interest in philosophy to her enthusiastic and energetic teaching style. She also encouraged me to apply for graduate studies abroad and created the contact between me and Professor Joseph Raz who later became my supervisor. So I can praise her (or blame her) for my chosen career path.

Academically she has written breakthrough articles on the issues of privacy and the distinction between the private and the public sphere. She later also published extensively on questions of ethnic diversity, inter-religious conflicts, nationalism and democracy in the Israeli context and her writings have had major influence internationally and locally.

...In 2005 she established Mezila -- an organization devoted to a reconciliation between humanism and Zionism in Israel. These two organizations reflect the inherent tensions in her personality between her commitment to the ideal of Zionism on the one hand and her commitment to liberal rights and humanism on the other. These tensions in her personality gave rise to many bitter controversies between her and many other activists.
Tension is now another word for contradiction. Smoove.

Harel, Phillip and Estelle Mizock Chair in Administrative and Criminal Law at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the author of Why Law Matters.

A student of Raz. Nice to make it explicit that legal realism is always in the service of the political realism of the rulers. Better at least than the perversity of a Zionist defense of Robust Moral Realism.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Dolly Parton is better than Adolph Reed on BLM for the same reason Seth Rogen is better than Noam Chomsky on Israel.

Rogen: "Israel makes no sense." Simple. And bourgeois with no pretension.

repeats:
No shit
Black Lives Matter sentiment is essentially a militant expression of racial liberalism....Black Lives Matter is a cry for full recognition within the established terms of liberal democratic capitalism.

Cedric Johnson is associate professor of African American Studies and Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Zionism site:https://nonsite.org

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Leiter
Chomsky on the Harper's letter about free speech and "cancel culture"... 
...which he of course signed, but which has been controversial with the wokerati. From the interview:
The letter is anodyne. It's a simple statement that it's worth being careful to preserve freedom of speech. The main attack on freedom of speech was not discussed there. It's the mainstream establishment, which for years has been engaged in massive cancel culture.
repeats
Philosophers are idiots
A university must tolerate, and even welcome, those who follow evidence and argument to conclusions that are false or unpalatable; but it may reject those who seek a platform for hatred or deception. That is why it counts counts against Middlebury College when its shouts down Charles Murray but it counts in favour of Berkeley when it excludes Milos Yannopoulos [sic].
Universities would deserve criticism for rejecting a presentation by the authors of the Nuremberg Laws, but would be right in rejecting a speech by a rabble-rousing journalist who promotes them.

Similar from Farrell
The way that the Kennedy School used to think about fellowships, as Elmendorf describes it – which I think is the only sustainable way for it to think about them – is as no more and no less than a way to facilitate debate and conversation. This is one of the things that universities are supposed to do – bring a diverse group of people into debate, reflecting a broad set of constituencies. That Chelsea Manning is anathema to other fellows like Morell should be neither here or there – the job of the university is to provide opportunities for both people like Manning and people like Morell to participate in public debate, without necessarily feeling the need to pronounce on the merits of either.
Chomsky has the habit of answering email and I wrote him one. He might recognize the name. Family connections.
The authors of the letter you signed defend their own right to cancel speech they don't approve of. 
None of this is about free speech; it’s about acceptable speech. Limits on acceptable speech are a fact of life. That's why outsiders get on soap boxes. Normative assumption is a powerful thing. And editors are called editors because they have the power to choose what they print. But the NYT Op-Ed didn’t go through standard channels. It wasn’t edited or reviewed. It didn’t follow even their own formal process. And it included falsehoods that staff saw as blatant.

I wouldn’t expect the Times to publish an op-ed that didn’t fit their narrative. That’s why monopolies are bad and free speech is important.

I defend the rights of Nazis, but I wouldn’t expect the Times to publish Hitler without comment. And it didn’t. But the people behind the Harper’s letter think arguments for a one sate solution in Palestine are beyond the pale altogether, with no place in "civil discourse” or blablabla.
You’re allowing yourself to be used as cover for their hypocrisy.
He wrote back and we danced. Four notes back and fourth. The last:
-We’re done.You’ve never understood politics for the same reason you’ve never understood language. It’s not mathematics.
I’d like to reproduce our exchange but I won’t do it without your permission.

-You don’t have my permission. But I agree that we’re done.
I'll break my word, but only brief quotes.

He defends signing the Harper's letter regardless of the fact that the people behind it and many of the cosigners are hypocrites. I told him he could make the effort to defend the principle and separate himself from those who don't follow through, but he can't see the authority behind his name absent the fact of the words he signed. He can't or refuses to see language as a tool beyond it's logical function. The false humility of denying he's Noam Chomsky.  Of course within linguistics he's famous for his arrogance. He said no one denies that the editors at the NYT have the right to refuse to publish an op-ed. He seemed unaware of Tom Cotton's piece and James Bennett's resignation, referred to in the Harper's letter without naming the participants. After I described the events at the Times he still denied there's any relation. On acceptable speech he responded as if I were making a moral argument and not describing a sociological fact. He said we might disagree about what's unacceptable, which for him meant calls to bomb Iran "now instead of waiting". He doesn't read; he argues from assumption, but now we know he thinks Iran's a threat. Iran is not a threat, but Chomsky's still a Zionist. Anti-Zionism still isn't acceptable, but it's closer than it used to be. You don't read op-eds defending it in the Times, but you will. Change takes time. Chomsky prefers the timeless; he imagines an ideal transparency in language and then in politics, both held in check only by malign forces.

I've said it dozens of times: post-war rationalism is a disaster. Chicago school economics, Quine, Chomsky, von Neumann and Clem Greenberg. Varieties of the gothic. And Chomsky began his career arguing that linguistics could be modeled on physics.

Cathy Young, recommended by Williams.
The other charge against Weiss — her support last year for a Stanford law student who denounced a campus event with left-wing Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley and assailed Valley as a trafficker in anti-Jewish hate — raises equally thorny issues. Valley’s work frequently uses nasty Jewish stereotypes and Nazi parallels to skewer pro-Israel American Jews as well as Israeli politicians. (In fact, he’s been praised by David Duke.) If people objected to a campus event with a black far-right troll who used blatantly racist tropes to mock black Democrats, I don’t think Weiss or most other signers of The Letter would see that as an outrageous attack on free speech.
Valley's book has a forward by Peter Beinart.

Chomsky now has a tag. It reminded me that Zizek already had one. And we had a more interesting conversation. Z's a bit of a fool, but he plays the role. Chomsky's a pedant and an ass. My mother called him humorless and a dry stick.

Chomsky: "It’s a truism that a statement is evaluated by its contents." It's neither a truism nor is it the case.
Serendipity (the ghost of Panofsky) and (comedians).
repeats  "the poverty of the stimulus".  two posts.


More than ten years ago an experimental psychologist described to me her experience and others', dealing with and navigating around Chomskians. At this point it's devolved into a cult.
Joe Biden just announced his running mate choice: Sen. Kamala Harris of California. That means Harris, if she can govern well, could be the leader of both the Democratic Party and the country through 2030. If she can't, she might well be the last democratically-elected vice president in American history.

Biden is the heavy favorite against Trump this year. Given his age and his track record of working closely with President Obama when he was vice president, Harris will presumably play a significant role in major governing decisions. It's unpopular for the media to talk about, but there's a decent chance she would need to step in before Biden's term is up. What's more, there is a reasonable chance that Biden would choose not to run for re-election in 2024. If so, Harris would be the overwhelming favorite to run in his place.

The stakes could hardly be higher. Donald Trump is blatantly trying to steal the 2020 election, and the next Republican candidate will very likely try the same trick. A Biden administration would have four years, and perhaps another four or eight under a Harris administration, to address the pandemic, rebuild the shattered economy and federal government, root out Trump's gangrenous corruption, and fortify America's democratic institutions. If Biden and Harris instead muddle through letting everything fester, as happened under the Obama administration, the next would-be authoritarian probably won't be as incompetent as Trump. Let's hope they seize the moment.
Biden has made his pick. Like Biden, she is "pragmatic," i.e, she will tilt whichever way the wind is blowing. Unlike Biden, she is a better and more reliably coherent speaker. A Black woman on the ticket should guarantee a huge Black turnout, which is crucial for Democrats. At the same time, like Obama, she won't scare off those white voters whose latent racial prejudices and anxieties might be activated by a more progressive Black politician. I have no enthusiasm for either on substance, but the main issue is to defeat the monster-child decisively, and hopefully they can do it. I do think they will end up being a highly progressive administration if the Democrats can capture both houses of Congress as well.

ADDENDUM: A few readers (and some Twitterati) didn't quite get the joke in the post title, above. Senator Harris will be the next President because, on the assumption that the monster-child will be defeated (all bets are off for humanity if that's wrong!), (1) Biden doesn't seem equipped to carry out a full 4-year term, and (2) even if he does, Harris will be his heir apparent (given the huge role name recognition--think "Clinton," "Kennedy," "Bush"--plays in democracy). The best thing about Senator Harris (apart from her ability to pull in votes from crucial demographics) is that her father is a Marxist. That means there is hope for America yet. (Readers who have not should look at Achen & Bartels, Democracy for Realists, which makes a strong case, especially in the American context, that democratic elections are all about group identities, not about policies.)
Harris' father was upset his daughter made a joke about Jamaicans and pot. Buttigieg's father was a translator of Gramsci; he didn't disown his son for working for McKinsey. Leiter, Achen and Bartels are realists after Posner and Kissinger; they idealize themselves.

Harris as DA protected the Catholic Church and jailed mothers of children who skipped school. As California Attorney General she ignored court orders to free non-violent prisoners. The Democratic leadership is protecting its right flank with another black conservative. Wall Street is happy.

Change comes from below. The Squad won easily. Omar won out over AIPAC and Bari Weiss.
The Republican base is embracing QAnon.

Leiter defends the rule of his own reason and enlightenment and then links happily, without comment, to arguments he's full of shit. Of course the arguments are polite and "collegial" and this one's full of a hedging, but nothing matters more to Leiter than the "group identity" of academia.

Cooper's an ass but not worse. He moralizes; he's not pro-looter, but he's willfully blind. He's not a full-on geek but when he finds something he can't face he becomes what he would otherwise call "anti-science".

Bouie is taking the fight to Williams, but I don't think he's read Darryl Pinckney.  Williams hasn't responded to the review. He's a coward, but Pinckney is in many ways is his model, a fantasy of what Williams wants to be. And Pinckney is much crueler that Bouie, who only exposes Williams' ignorance rather than saying that passing is what he's trying to do, to escape blackness.

I always read Pinckney as the token black man at the NYRB, who'd passed,  intellectually, into the world of the literary elite, choosing art over explicit politics. I think Harold Bloom was a fan. But I always read his as a smart critic. He's the long-term companion (and vice-versa) of James Fenton. And that brings us back to Hitchens.

Nwanevu left twitter, but like Williams, and Bouie, and Coates, and Jilani,  (and Cooper and the other white suburbanites) he imagines himself an "intellectual". None of it works.

Definitions of an intellectual: someone who's worth reading when their arguments are absurd; someone who enjoys reading absurd arguments; someone who ducks when someone else describes them as an intellectual, and shrugs when someone says that they're a member of "the intellectual class" that includes Williams, Bouie, Cooper et al. Calling yourself an intellectual is like putting PhD after your name every time you write it. But no one in America calls themselves bourgeois. "In the US, where it’s impossible to acknowledge yourself as a member of a group you didn’t choose to join."

Leiter links to Le Monde Diplo, "a useful and interesting corrective", ignoring that the author quotes the "charlatan" Zizek.
Mass democratic mobilisations have, in fact, existed at the heart of these regimes: workers’ riots in June 1953 in Berlin, workers’ councils in Poland and Hungary in 1956, the Prague Spring of 1968 (prolonged by the birth of the Czech workers’ councils), the revolutionary trade unionism of Solidarność (Solidarity) in Gdansk, Poland, in 1980. It is this history that the liberal interpretation of 1989 obliterates or falsifies — and tries to appropriate by presenting it as anti-communist. These popular movements fought, not to re-establish capitalism, but on the contrary in the name of socialist ideals. 
If the end of the single party was popular; the philosopher Slavoj Žižek recalled that ‘Behind the Wall the peoples did not dream of capitalism’ (Le Monde, 7 November 2009). Capitalism’s triumph did not arise from a mass desire, but a choice made by the communist nomenklatura: to transform its privileges of function into privileges of ownership. Although the elites’ ‘grand conversion’ has been analysed, there are few studies on the social base of the old single party, which, though it became restive, did not demand privatisations.
What epistocracy has wrought
The United States Postal Service is removing mail sorting machines from facilities around the country without any official explanation or reason given, Motherboard has learned through interviews with postal workers and union officials. In many cases, these are the same machines that would be tasked with sorting ballots, calling into question promises made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that the USPS has “ample capacity” to handle the predicted surge in mail-in ballots.
They need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said on Fox Business Thursday morning of the states that are implementing universal mail-in voting ahead of the November election. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”
The rise of American fascism. I blame the 60s, the yuppies, academic theory and John Rawls. Liberals blame everyone else but themselves.

Historian Patrick Iber on historian Rick Perstein.
"How the GOP Became the Party of Resentment
Have historians of the conservative movement focused too much on its intellectuals?"
One of the values of Perlstein’s heavily narrative and loosely argued approach is that it restores a sense of randomness to outcomes. In retrospect, Reagan looks like the inevitable product of capital’s alliance with social and religious conservatism. But even in the 1980 primary, the “boardroom Jacobins” favored John Connally. They had to accept Reagan, and they certainly made their peace. But none of this was fated. Conservative activists remade the country with intensity, opportunism, and persistence through defeat. Those hoping to push back against their influence today might take some strange comfort in the story of their success. Studying the past does not tell you what will be possible in the future, nor promise that hard work will be rewarded. But it seems fair to conclude that the work is necessary, if not sufficient, and that many will not feel the tremors as the ground shifts under their feet.
And Cooper approves of this shit.

Liberals are responsible for nothing. That hippy anarchism became Silicon Valley authoritarianism means nothing. Neoliberalism does not exist. It's always someone else's fault.

Perstein's friend Aaaron Swartz has a tag. Now so does Perlstein. Enabler of narcissists, defender of the CIA,  the New Jack mashup of Arthur Schlesinger and Richard Hofstadter.

"I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong." No shit.

Fits with Jilani's reactionary definition of what he calls *progressives*